NASCAR: 5 drivers who cannot afford a bad 2024 season

Several drivers are set to enter a make-or-break NASCAR Cup Series season in 2024, as their performance will be held under a microscope.

Austin Cindric, Martin Truex Jr., Daniel Suarez, NASCAR
Austin Cindric, Martin Truex Jr., Daniel Suarez, NASCAR / Meg Oliphant/GettyImages
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The start of the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season is right around the corner. Some drivers are in for career years, others are poised to surprise, and others will inevitably underperform.

And, of course, some will put their teams in tough positions regarding how to manage their futures in the sport -- or lack thereof.

There are five drivers in particular who cannot afford poor showings in 2024 if they want to be absolutely sure of remaining in the sport in 2025 and beyond. Here's a breakdown of each.

No. 1 - Austin Cindric

I get that Team Penske president Tim Cindric is Austin's father, but it has been well-documented that his father's involvement with the team has remained totally separate from Austin's own rise to the Cup Series. Austin has earned his way to the top.

In his first start as a full-time Cup Series driver, Austin Cindric became a Daytona 500 champion. But the problem is that in 71 starts since then, there is quite literally nothing significant to speak of.

He has recorded just five top five finishes since his Daytona 500 win, and his top 10 finish total of nine dropped off to five in year number two. While Ford and Team Penske may have struggled as a whole over the last two seasons, they still won both championships, one with each of Cindric's two teammates (Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney).

While we won't discount the possibility that 2023 was simply a "sophomore slump", Cindric will absolutely need to do better than another 24th place finish in the point standings to shore up his future behind the wheel of the No. 2 Ford.